Intimate Partner Violence

Intimate partner violence is a pattern of abusive and coercive behaviors used to maintain power and control over a former or current intimate partner. It can occur among heterosexual sexual couples as well as same-sex couples. An abusive relationship means more than being hit by the person who claims to love or care about you. Abuse can be emotional, psychological, financial, sexual, or physical and can include threats, isolation, and intimidation. Abuse tends to escalate over time. When someone uses abuse and violence against a partner, it is always part of a larger pattern to try to control her/him. 

Why People Stay in Abusive Relationships >>

Emotional abuse:
This type of abuse is also referred to as psychological abuse.  It is often the form of abuse that is most difficult for people who have never been abused to understand. When taken out of context, emotional abuse may look "normal." For example, joking about a mistake someone has made can be a normal part of a relationship. However, when it is part of ongoing insults, criticism and put-downs, it reinforces a victim's feelings of worthlessness. 

Economic abuse:
Money is a difficult thing to negotiate in a healthy relationship.  When someone is abusive, money becomes a way to control the victim.  Economic abuse can include using the victim's credit cards or meal plan, paying for things the victim needs and using that to manipulate the victim, making someone feel guilty about their financial status, or even stealing money.

Sexual abuse:
Sexual abuse in an intimate relationship can be very confusing. Because the victim has consented to be with this person sexually, they may feel that they have to agree to everything their partner wants. In a healthy relationship, a person's sexual boundaries are always respected. The most obvious form of sexual abuse involves forcing someone to have sex. More subtle forms include pressuring or manipulating someone to have sex or to engage in sexual activities, or not allowing the victim to use birth control or protect themselves from sexually transmitted infections.

Physical abuse:
In many abusive relationships, physical abuse is not very frequent. However, once someone has been physically abusive, the threat of it happening again can be a powerful way to control the victim. 


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